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This is the Birthplace of Cirque du Soleil!

In the early 80s, Guy Laliberté and Gilles Sainte-Croix were frequent visitors at the now legendary Balcon Vert, Baie-Saint-Paul’s youth hostel. That’s where the pair of circus performers – one a fire-eater, the other a stilt-walker – dreamt up a circus with no animals, and apparently no borders! Club des Talons hauts [the High-Heel Club] and their imagination knew no limits.

At the time, the two illuminati developed several events for la Fête Foraine, a summer fair and a genuine festive odyssey through the streets of Baie-Saint-Paul. Along with patchouli, the rich fragrance of Peace & Love sweetened the air, elephant pants were the rage and girls rarely wore bras. A restaurant on rue Sainte-Anne soon became headquarters for all these beautiful people – the stuff legends are made of.

The rest is well known. Globally, Cirque du Soleil is a top ambassador for Québec talent. In 2009, the City of Baie-Saint-Paul wished to mark the Cirque’s 25th anniversary by organizing L’Éveil du Géant, an immense celebration with the atmosphere of a funfair to which were invited Gilles Sainte-Croix, Guy Laliberté and Daniel Gauthier ‒ three iconic celebrities here in the region. The latter was also top dog at Le Massif de Charlevoix.

All year long, everyone enjoyed visiting Dreamweavers ‒ Cirque du Soleil Costumes, an exhibition presented at the Baie-Saint-Paul Museum of Contemporary Art. As well, there was a photography display featuring the best pics of Les Échassiers de la Baie by photographer François Rivard, the charmed witness of Cirque du Soleil’s baby steps here in Baie-Saint-Paul. 2009 also marked the creation of a monumental sculpture, Le Phare [The Beacon], created by internationally renowned artist René Derouin, in tribute to Cirque du Soleil. It can be admired at Hôtel Germain Charlevoix, next to the train platform.

Also recommended is a stroll over to Place du Citoyen, where artist Danielle April created an immense piece, L’équilibre précaire. Built on a granite base shaped like a sun, two stilt-walkers stand in balance on a giant metal ring inscribed in French with a quote by David Suzuki: “The planet’s future is in the hands of us all.” Inspiring, eh?

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